Things to Do on a Weekend in Birmingham (UK).

Cadbury World

Birmingham is considered as England’s ‘second city’ by many, and due to its location in the middle of the country, it is easily accessible wherever you live. The sheer size of the city also means that there is plenty to see and do here. So if you are looking to spend a weekend away somewhere, Birmingham is well worth considering.

Here is a guide to some of the top things to do during a weekend in Birmingham…

Shop until you drop

Those who want to spend some serious cash on new clothes, gadgets and other things will be perfectly catered for in Birmingham. The city is home to the iconic Bullring shopping centre, which is conveniently located just over the road from New Street Station. Here you can find all of the high-street stores that you would expect, along with a raft of restaurants and cafe’s for when you need to take a break. In fact, it’s likely it will take you more than one day to get around them all!

Experience some live music

There are a number of great music venues in Birmingham, and the city is one of the main stop-off points for international artists on a UK tour. The huge NEC Arena can be found on the outskirts, conveniently located just off the M42 motorway, whilst in the city centre itself you have the National Indoor Arena, the O2 Academy, the Institute and many more smaller venues. There’s also a Gatecrasher nightclub – the only one left in the UK – for those into their dance and house music. For those partying late into the night, it’s well worth looking into the hotels in Birmingham town centre so you don’t have far to get into bed afterwards!

Cadbury World

Located in Bourneville to the south-west of Birmingham, you’re bound to feel like you’re in a Roald Dahl novel as you step foot into the only Cadbury World to be found in the UK. Kids and serious chocoholics alike will be able to explore the 14 different zones, and you’ll even be able to create your own sweet treat towards the end of your tour! You’ll definitely want to stock up on your yearly dose of chocolate before you leave.

Take a boat trip

Birmingham is a city with a fascinating heritage, and you can learn all about this on one of the city’s canal cruise trips. Alternatively, taking one of these tours gives you the opportunity to take a step back from the hustle and bustle of the city and unwind as the boat gently sails through the narrow canal network. Some trips can be booked in advance – it’s worth doing this to avoid disappointment on the day.

Sandwell Valley Country Park

Some tranquillity from the busy city can be found at the Sandwell Valley Country Park, located towards the West Bromwich area of Birmingham. Here you will find 2,000 acres of open, green space – ideal for those looking to relax, have a walk or go for a cycle. Families with children will be able to enjoy the working Victorian farm with a number of rare breed animals and a quaint tea room.

How To Cut Cost While Travelling In Orlando

Disney Orlando Castle Night

Any holiday you take abroad has a cost associated with it, particularly if it involves flying across the Atlantic. Nevertheless, many of the trans-Atlantic air operators do offer some exceptional deals. Look for their fly-drive deals when heading to Orlando. This part of Florida really pioneered the concept of fly-drive holidays in the British public’s minds and you can still find better prices to fly to this part of the United States than you can just about anywhere else on the eastern seaboard.

Accommodation Savings

Once you have arrived in Orlando and picked up your rental car, assuming this has been included in your deal, then it is time to think about your accommodation. Many Orlando hotels offer high quality accommodation and boast of world-class facilities that tourists can enjoy without putting a strain in their budget. As such, don’t feel like you need to book from the UK in advance for the whole of your stay in one hotel. Why not shop around and stay a few nights in one hotel, then move to another? After all, the concept of the fly-drive is to tour around a little. Even if you stick in and around Orlando, without ever exploring the rest of Florida, there is more than enough choice from the top-quality hotels in the city.


Orlando is stuffed full of tourist attractions. Therefore, the competition for the tourist dollar can be intense. Even big name attractions like Universal’s and Disney’s theme parks have offers and discounts that you can take advantage of. Check the internet for any coupons that you can find online which will allow for reduced price entry to these parks. Remember that Orlando’s attractions – whilst mostly being family-focused – are not all about kids. Try the Revolution Off Road Experience in Lake County or the Outta Control Magic Comedy Dinner Show in downtown Orlando and check local newspapers and television output for the best times to go which will cost you the least.

Free Things To Do

Getting a good deal on entry to an attraction always feels good, but there are also plenty of things you can do around Orlando which won’t cost a cent. Try Black Hammock Adventures which is close to Lake Jessup. It offers free entry and has live alligator and birds on show. If you move on to the bar there, then you will have to pay for drinks but there is free live music provided each and every Friday and Saturday evening.

For an eclectic collection of art galleries try the CityArts Factory, situated in central Orlando. Here, the talents of local and international artists are showcased. Just down the road, the Cornell Fine Arts Museum offers free entry to students and you can see works of art from the likes of Matisse and Picasso.

Orlando is a great place for a relatively cheap holiday in the US. Just make sure you plan your stay ahead a little. And keep an eye out for the best deals – there are always new ones coming up.

cruising the moselle valley.

Moselle Valley

One thing I truly miss from my life in America is driving. I miss owning a car and hopping in whenever I wanted to get out of the house. Whether it was running to the supermarket or going the distance for a countryside escape, that freedom of the open road and a long, Texas highway is something special. The trains in Germany offer so many options to getaway, but it’s always a longer journey by train and bus to the road less traveled.

When Shayla spontaneously decided on a trip to Germany, I knew we needed to spend a couple days exploring by car. Shayla wanted to see parts of Germany outside of Munich, Berlin, and other tourist spots – the spots she wold not end up on her own. Karlsruhe lies between two fantastic regions: the Rhine Valley and the Black Forest, so that was not going to be a problem. To get even further away from tourist spots, we decided against the Rhine Valley and shifted a little further west to the Moselle Valley. The Moselle Valley is not only German (although we stuck to that part), but also extends into France and Luxembourg.

We were based in the little town of Löf, right on the Moselle River. Since February is mega-offseason in this region, our hotel suggested we drive south to Cochem if we wanted to visit a castle. So south we drove, and up we hiked to the Reichsburg Cochem, only to find it also closed (just one of those moments). The hike up with our already sore legs was still validated by the fantastic views of the town. Fortunately, the rest of the town was open for business. We wandered through the old streets, engaging in wine tastings and even a mustard tasting! I seriously love me some mustard, and the curry and Kölsch beer mustards were pretty fantastic, but in the end I took home the classic recipe.

After enjoying everything Cochem had to offer, we continued driving further south along the river. Steep vineyards, the steepest in Germany in fact, lined the roads and it was spectacular imagining how much more beautiful this already breathtaking region must be in the summer months. The homes of family-owned winegrowers lined the roads and we made one last stop for some wine. We rang the doorbell of a large, brick home and the wife of the winegrower came down and let of sample a variety from their collection. She explained that this region is so famous for its Rieslings because Riesling grapes grow best on very steep hills, like the ones in these valleys. I ended up taking home a couple dry rieslings and even a sweet white dessert wine. I normally steer clear of dessert wines, but this one was truly something special. The day only got better with a dinner that hit the spot and rewarded all of our walking.

our cute little Audi A1 rental, with the surprising and confusing start-stop technology

How about those winding roads for a drive?

Reichsburg Cochem

Cochem, Germany

wine tasting room

schnapps galore!

old mustard mill (Senfmühle)

a local wine producer’s home

another wine tasting room

 Burg Thurant

Do you like Rieslings?

I was never a Riesling-drinker before moving to Germany. I always thought of Riesling as a very sweet wine, but actually the dry (trocken) Rieslings have easily scooted into my number 1 wine slot. Chardonnays taste so austere to me lately.